Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Question: Is one-on-one counseling with the opposite sex when single and/or when married wise? Is a close friendship with the opposite sex healthy for your marriage?
Answer: The counseling relationship or psychological follow-up, places two people in a professional or pastoral relationship, which will bring them closer to each other during work sessions.
During these meetings the caregiver, whether it is a therapist or a pastor, whether a man or a woman, will have to bring the patient to open up emotionally, to be vulnerable, in order to deliver personal information which allows the discovery of the roots of the problem. During such exchanges, many transfers can be made from the patient to the caregiver, and also sometimes (although this is rarer) in the opposite direction. Normally, a professional should be able to prevent these emotional transfers, due to all kinds of psychological imbalances, from taking place.
Taking a preventative stance, Rachel and I do not recommend therapeutic treatment between two people of different sexes, whether they are married or not. Not that we believe that it is not possible for a caregiver to be able to help a person of the opposite sex, but we believe, on the one hand, that therapy performed by a professional of the same sex will be more likely to be better received. The ability to build confidence and understand the psychological mechanisms of the patient is greater when there are not gender limitations, and the risks of emotional transfers from the patient to the therapist is also hindered.
For the same reasons and because of the natural mechanism of building friendship, we believe, once married, that it is not possible, nor desirable, to have a best friend who is of the opposite sex. First of all, the role of best friend naturally falls to the spouse. Secondly, placing a person of the opposite sex in this position can quite naturally create favorable conditions so that the friendship evolves over time toward a romantic relationship and, therefore, toward a risk of emotional and/or physical adultery.
It is, therefore, preferable to prevent rather than being put in the position of having to cure a completely preventable circumstance.